Dormant grass seed

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by VO Landscape Design, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. VO Landscape Design

    VO Landscape Design LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 353

    Our city has replaced the hi-way out front of our house. They just put down dormant grass seed. What is the process for dormant seed, won't grow until next spring, does it need to be watered, what kind of germination % can be expected? The whole process has been a pain in the a$$ to say the least. I will have to redo it in the spring. They cut into our hill in the front for the sidewalk and used a bucket to level it off. So it is a big clumpy mess. I plan on redoing it all in the spring, just curious what the rest of the neighborhood will look like. Might have a chance to pick up some renovation of the mess in the Spring.
    VO
     
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    If you're going to do it, I'd do it now if its not too late , then put down the seed I would like to see there...
     
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,774

    Good questions VO,
    I planted seed in February purposely on top of snow last winter (outside in a container). I also planted some seed on soil in my garden at the same time. Naturally nothing happened until the soil temps warmed up. The seed planted in my garden came up on April 8th. I cannot find the exact date of emergence for the seed sown on top of snow, but it was slightly later. I am planning to try this again in 2012. In fact, seed I planted Oct 29 emerged about 30 days later.

    So...don't expect anything to happen until spring, and and only when the soil warms up to about 50. I see no advantage to planting in the early winter as "dormant seeding". In my opinion, you will have plenty of time to plant in early spring. Suppose you planted about March 15, (if there is no snow)--you would be planting about 22 days before expected emergence.

    Of course, there is always the argument that freezing and thawing makes little ridges or cracks and that action plants the seed down into the soil. Based on what evidence? We need a side by side comparison.

    And there is the idea that moisture from rain and snow can be absorbed into the seed and begin the germination process--even at temperatures just above freezing. I don't know.
    Let us know what happens, VO.

    Does anyone have experience in these matters? Hydroseeders experience? Lacking that--strong opinion?
     
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,774

    VO,
    here is the average soil temp data from Iowa for the last nine years.
    Probably you can get an idea of when your soil will hit 50, (around April 11th). Then you have to find out if your grass type will germinate at 50.

    A third question remains unanswered--how much seed, in percent germination --will be lost over the winter to birds, rot or some other cause.

    Could be a lot of work--count out a hundred seeds--plant on one sqft in December. Count out a hundred seeds and plant on one sqft in mid-March. Count the number of grass blades that sprout. Compare and discuss.
     
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    Winter conditions get the seed ready to pop at the earliest possible moment, is the theory... One could put seed on frozen open ground and see what happens by Spring. One could add to the little experiment putting fresh dry seed in part of the plot and see which section pops first...

    I also plant in the Spring and the advantage there is, if you work the soil it warms up quicker... for areas that I'm not going to put time into with soil prep, dormant seeding is the way to go... broadcast on top and let nature take its course.

    I wonder how nature was able to reseed damaged areas without our help? :)
     
  6. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,542

    Nature fills bare damaged spots with weeds usually. Nature certainly wouldn't give most customers the lawn they want and what they pay us to provide. Nature takes care of a lot of things, providing a mono stand asthetically pleasing turf area ain't one of them.
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  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    I was talking about reseeding... nature broadcasts on the surface and generally germinates in dead composted grass from the previous winter... on bare soil it usu. waits until it is buried deep enough...
    The prairies were not absolutely monoculture, but they definately had their visual effect... :)
     
  8. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,542

    I get your point, and agree. But percent of germination is increased dramatically with a little prep.
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  9. VO Landscape Design

    VO Landscape Design LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 353

    There "prep" is scraping the soil throwing down seed and piling on the straw. It is along the 4 lane main street through town. Wind, dirt, salt and general crap will be deposited during the winter. Don't have very high hopes for grass.
    VO
     
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    In some cases perhaps, but I don't really like to mess up too much surface if I don't have too, particularily if there is an old layer of decaying debri sitting atop the soil. Disturbing the protective layer sometimes makes it disappear.

    Already our ground has frozen after being saturated with rain/snow and has subsequently thawed at the surface under snow cover. We've already seen the "Bubbling" of the soil surface that occurs during those thawing events. Seed has already disappeared into those holes, and that ground is loose, moist and still has its protective layer.

    I don't know what we could do to make it a more perfect planting environment... :)
     

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